Thursday, November 19, 2009

The beginning of my typical work day

My day starts about 4:30AM and I leave home a little over an hour later. It’s about ten minutes up and down the streets across the city's north end ridges to I-5, and ten minutes more until I arrive at school. I can always count on third grade teacher Annie getting here before me. Three years ago she was the one who guided me, in the early dark of what seemed like a thousand mornings, as I struggled to adjust to a new school, age group, and teaching philosophy.

Annie is generally the only one there, except for Bob who sometimes surprises me walking out of the foggy darkness from the bus stop on Lake City Way. If the outside lights are on, Bob is there, but I sometimes beat him to turning on the room's heat. I met Bob five years ago at my first teaching post, a quirky middle school. I'm not sure why he always takes the bus, but my theory is that it might have begun with a court order.

I park in my usual spot, juggle coffee, lunch and laptop as I key the car's remote and walk head down into the usual rain to my room’s outside door .
Annie's car is always there as I pull into the lot.
First thing I do is make a To-Do list while drinking kefir and munching the world’s best trail mix, Omega-3 blend from Trader Joe’s. I gather up yesterday’s strewn-about sheets of instruction and take the day before’s class- and homework out of the Purple Bin where, if I am lucky, it has been sorted by a revolving team of students doing the previous day's end chores.

I check to see who is missing assignments that will have to be made up during lunch recess study hall. I spend an hour or more grading the papers turned in, a mixture of multiplication timed trials, math homework, essay drafts and grammar work. During another hour or more, there are stacks of activity sheets to be made up and copied, and the mail to be picked up. I check for phone and email messages that need to be returned before the school day begins.

At least once a week morning is cut short by meetings beginning at eight and lasting up until the nine o'clock bell when it’s time to let the kids in.

Most mornings, as I post the daily schedule I can hear the class scout narrating through the gap at the bottom of the door’s blinds: “He’s writing on the board…turn in your social studies homework…no AR tests this morning.” Today it was, "Mr. D_____ got a haircut!"
Of course, by the time I open the door and get my first breath of daylight’s bracing air, this youngster has fled and blended into the two lines unaccountably jockeying to enter the classroom first, as if there was a mega-clearance sale going on inside.

Twenty-four ten-year-olds stream and straggle past my friendly "Good Morning" with a mix of drowsiness, exuberance, sniffles and juvenile jokes.  The day begins again.

Monday, November 16, 2009